July 11, 2013
The Soapbox of Natural Vs. Not
There are some amazing hospital photos I cannot wait to share with you all, for those who haven't yet seen them. And there are probably dozens of posts trapped in my head that have nothing to do with babies, for those of you who are worried. But the past two weeks, I have thought a lot about the differences in labors with Millie and Walter. Specifically, their nearly opposite paths, and the reason they're both just fine.
With Millie: Water broke naturally, contractions were slow, not allowed to use jacuzzi tub, given Pitocin, begged for an epidural, spent 4 hours pushing, 22 hour labor.
With Walter: Contractions were very fast, no drugs at all, water broken by midwife right before he was born, used jacuzzi tub for a few minutes during transition, spent 1 hour pushing, 5 hour labor.
Maybe I wasn't qualified to say this before, but I feel I am now- if labor ends in the birth of a baby, then it was successful. Millie's birth did not go at all the way I had hoped it would. I wrote up a lovely birth plan, if I do say so myself, and might as well have asked for a paper shredder as soon as I reached the hospital. As you all know, I think it gave me even more fear about Walter's birth. But because I had such strong desire for a natural labor the first time around, I felt like a complete and utter failure that I had allowed the Pitocin and caved to an epidural so easily. I remember asking Sky, while we were still in the hospital with her, if he was disappointed in me for not being able to do it "on my own". Looking back, I think that's kind of sad. Why should it matter what anyone else thinks?
These days, it seems like women are scolded into thinking that anything other than a completely natural birth is terrible for the baby. Why is the achievement of birth taken away from women who didn't do it that way? Does a C-section make someone less of a mother than someone with an aromatherapy, hypnotic water birth? I think that is ridiculous. (And while we're on the subject- this reminds me of the people who plan for weddings and not marriage. Let's focus on the raising of our kids more than just the getting them into the world.)
I so tire of hearing women wearing natural birth as a badge of honor, because the truth? The truth is that both labors were incredibly painful. (Labor generally is, right?) In fact, I could probably be persuaded to say that the labor with Pitocin was much more difficult and painful. To make it through that pain and end up with a beautiful baby is a huge accomplishment. In fact, it's one of the biggest of my life. I don't think points should be deducted because of how it was done- the fact is, I did it. No one else. I own those hours, and I alone know how they felt.
I almost hesitated to admit that Walter's birth was drug-free, because it implies that it matters much more than I think it should. Having compared both births, I would obviously pick an experience like Walter's over Millie's; it was a very short (although very intense) labor, and I felt more in control of myself and the situation because of all the complications that went along with my first labor. But I'm tired of feeling like I wasn't enough the first time.
Here's to the mamas- however they were made. Whether planned or not, adoption or carried, fertility treatments or none, years waiting or the first try, and any kind of labor imaginable- the goal in the end is to be a mother to a sweet baby.
And, written with complete bias and lack of humility, I feel like I have accomplished that.